From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Nouilles et Fromage en Casserole (Symbol)

In Chapter 9, the children arrive at the home of Mrs. Frankweiler and she has the cook make nouilles et fromage en casserole. Claudia is delighted by the name of this dish, which sounds extravagant and French, but she is surprised to discover that it is only macaroni and cheese.

Mrs. Frankweiler explains that underneath all the fancy trappings (her mansion, chaffer, butler, marble sinks, and so on) she is really a very ordinary woman. The nouilles et fromage en casserole becomes a symbol of Mrs. Frankweiler's true nature: under all her fanciness, she is a no-nonsense but wholesome woman.

Running Away (Allegory)

At the beginning of the novel, Claudia and Jamie run away from home, which becomes the catalyst for all the other events in the book. While this important act forms the basis of the novel, it is also an allegory for the process of growing up and separating from one's family, and eventually finding everything that is important to you.

Being Near a Group (Allegory)

Mrs. Frankweiler comments that "Both Jamie and Claudia had acquired a talent for being near but never part of a group. (Some people, Saxonberg, never learn to do that all their lives, and some learn it all too well.)" (pg. 66)

The sneakiness of Jamie and Claudia, who stay near enough to a group to avoid the suspicion of the museum guards, but not close enough to make the group itself wonder who these new faces are, becomes an allegory for the ways that people related to one another. Some people never learn how to blend in to a crowd, while other people never seem to get close to anyone.

Angel (Motif)

Claudia is dazzled by a mysterious, beautiful statue known only as Angel. She wants to discover the truth of the origin of Angel - was this statue really made by the famous Michelangelo?

Angel also becomes the answer to going home again: Claudia wants to accomplish the incredible task of discovering Angel's true origins before she returns home. Angel is an opportunity for Claudia to show her intelligence and capability. Most of all, Angel offers a chance for Claudia to gain what she has always wanted the most: the feeling of being different.

The Left-over Bags (Symbol)

At the end of the novel, it is revealed that the children have left their instrument cases, containing all their clothes and possessions, in the museum. They've even left Jamie's transistor radio, which had previously been one of their most treasured possessions. The bags are brought to lost and found, but no one ever claims them.

The bags are a symbol for all of the emotional baggage that Jamie and Claudia have shed during the course of their adventure. What seemed so important to them before now seems meaningless, because they have found an even greater treasure.